For the past couple months, I’ve been playing around with making healthier treats. This came about for a lot of reasons. One is that I’ve been getting a lot of requests from friends to develop gluten-free and vegan recipes. And since I consider myself an equal opportunity baker – I’m happy to oblige. But, if I’m being honest, the biggest reason I’ve been doing this is because this style of baking is new to me and I’ve never been one to turn down a challenge. At first, I thought it might be a pain developing recipes without dairy and gluten…….and don’t get me wrong – it’s definitely not the easiest thing in the world. But what I didn’t expect was how much fun it would be.
Those of you who follow me on Instagram know that I’ve been on a mission to create the world’s greatest banana bread. It all started a few weeks ago when the husband came home from work and ever so innocently told me someone brought in the best banana bread ever. I smiled and replied, “Ohhh, really?? That’s cool.” But what I was really thinking was, “Are you freaking kidding me?! I’ll show you the best banana bread ever.” It was totally like that episode of Friends when Monica tells Chandler her new co-worker is the funniest guy ever. And, much like Chandler, I let a completely innocuous statement send me into a tailspin. Because baking is MY thing and there was no way I was going to let some other person (who I’m sure is perfectly lovely and most likely not as insanely competitive as me) steal my thunder. And thus began my quest to create the greatest banana bread that has ever existed ever.
Well guys, I finally did it……I’ve got a quick, easy recipe for you with ingredients you most likely already have in your kitchen! Funny thing is this recipe was actually a little tougher for me to develop than I thought it would be. Limiting the ingredients and techniques I could use proved to be quite the challenge. With every round and tweak I made the cookie still tasted flat to me. Usually, I would brown the butter or add in something like non-fat dried milk powder or whole wheat pastry flour to give the cookie some more depth. Buuuuuut I promised this recipe would be crazy, super easy so I restrained myself and ended up discovering a secret ingredient that I might not have thought of before.
So you might have noticed a few changes on the old blog. This past week I gave it a little bit of a face lift and, more importantly, updated all the posts with recipe cards (well……most of them – it’s a slow process and I’ve still got a few to do). The awesome thing about these recipe cards is that it makes it easier for you guys to print and save recipes and there’s also an option now to jump directly to a post recipe….just in case you want to dive straight in and get baking!
One thing I noticed while going back through my recipes is that the majority of them have quite a few steps and/or include ingredients that you might not have on hand in your kitchen. I mean I like to keep my kitchen stocked with tahini, miso, halva, vanilla bean paste and muscovado sugar…….but I have a feeling I might be in the minority on this one. So here’s my promise to you – my next recipe is going to be super simple, easy to throw together and only include things you would normally find in your pantry or are easy to find in the grocery store aka no running around town trying to find smoked sea salt!
If you guys are anything like me then you might have gone a wee bit overboard on the sweets and drinking over the holiday season. And if you’re like me, that holiday season dragged on and lasted til way past the New Year (aka up until a few days ago). Now this isn’t something I say often, but my body needs a serious break from all that sugar. So while I’m all about trying to eat a little healthier this week, I still need some kind of treat. Cause let’s face it……this girl needs her cookies and going completely cold turkey from desserts is just not realistic.
When it comes to food, I’m a firm believer in moderation and not labeling things as “good” or “bad.” A healthy relationship with food is far more important than sticking to some crazy strict diet. So instead of feeling guilty about all the delicious, amazing desserts I ate over the past few weeks, I’m going to look at the holiday season for what it was. A fun time to indulge in baked goods and share them with loved ones. But now it’s time to get that balance back…..and still get my cookie fix.
For those who don’t know, I am a full on holiday geek. I love this time of year. Christmas music? All about it. Twinkle lights on everything? Yes please. Two Christmas trees? Not yet…..but that’s the dream. If it wasn’t obvious, I fully embrace the holiday season. Especially the baking part. It’s the perfect excuse to go a little overboard and make a ridiculous amount of treats. And while I’m all for decadent cakes and cookies and breads, every once in a while it’s nice to make a treat that’s on the healthier side. That’s where these Dark Chocolate Honey Truffles come in.
It’s full on cookie season and I, for one, am digging it. I mean who doesn’t love cookies?? And the holidays are the perfect excuse to bust out in the kitchen and bake allllllll of the cookies. Seriously, no one will judge you this time of year if you decide to bake like 100 or 200 cookies. In December, that’s a totally reasonable thing to do.
I’m on a bit of a cookie kick right now and have been working on a couple awesome recipes to share with you guys. First up are these Figgy Toffee Cookies. Made with dark muscovado sugar, dried figs, and crushed up bits of toffee (either store bought or homemade….totally your call) – they are the perfect holiday cookie. These ingredients play beautifully off each other with the sweet, jammy figs complementing the subtle smokiness of the toffee and muscovado sugar. If you can’t find dark muscovado sugar, you can use dark brown sugar instead (if you do that – increase the molasses from 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon) but I highly recommend seeking out the muscovado sugar. It makes a big difference!
Hope you guys are getting your cookie on…..and, if you are, I hope you’ll add these to your rotation!
I usually try to keep things pretty light and not too crazy personal around here, but sometimes there are things going on in my life that end up seeping into my baking/blogging world. And this is definitely one of those things…….for the past couple of years I’ve been dealing with some stomach problems and this summer it finally got bad enough that I decided to go see a doctor and really figure out what was going on. At first, they thought I might have Celiac Disease…..which was definitely not what I was expecting or wanting to hear (all I kept thinking about was baking and how everything would have to change). Thankfully, that turned out not to be the case. But what they did discover was almost as surprising (mostly cause I had no idea this was even a thing)……turns out barley and me don’t get along so well. I guess the technical term is “allergic” or “intolerant” but the general gist is I can’t eat a lot of barley.
Can we all agree that Costco has the best/most unnecessary stuff ever? I mean, yes, there are tons of necessary things like screaming deals on bulk butter, nuts, and even lobster. But they also have things that you don’t really need, but REALLY want once you see them. Take for example the 3 lb tub of Reese’s Pieces I recently bought. Did I technically need 3 lbs worth of peanut butter goodness?? Probably not. Did buying it totally make my day and maybe even life infinitely better?? That’s debatable, but I’m leaning towards yes.
So now you’re probably wondering, “What do you do with 3 lbs worth of Reese’s?” Well, I’m glad you asked. First, you eat it….like a lot of it. Then you hide it from your husband cause he’s eating it faster than you and you’ll be damned if he gets to eat more of it than you (I have candy sharing issues). Then you realize you still have an insane amount of Reese’s Pieces left and should probably figure out a way to use it up. That’s where this recipe comes in.
Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bake Bars
- Yield: 16 bars
½ cup milk (any percentage will work)
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
¼ cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
½ cup unsalted butter
2 teaspoons non-fat dry milk powder
¼ cup dark chocolate chips
1 teaspoon kosher salt (if using regular salt – cut back to ½ teaspoon)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chunky peanut butter
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats, lightly toasted
Line an 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper or foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.
In a large heavy saucepan, place the milk, sugar, cocoa powder, non-fat milk powder, and butter. Over medium heat, stir the mixture together until the butter is melted and sugar is completely dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Once it is at a boil, stop stirring and let boil for a full 90 seconds.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the dark chocolate chips. When the chocolate is completely melted, stir in the kosher salt and vanilla. Then add in the peanut butter and mix until it is completely incorporated. Finally, fold in the oats.
Pour the mixture into your prepared pan and spread into a relatively even layer. Let the bars cool and set up for at least one hour. You can do this either on your counter top or in the fridge. Once the bars have set, cut into 16 pieces. If you want to add a little extra flair, drizzle the bars with some melted dark chocolate and top with coarsely chopped salted peanuts!